With National Allergy Week (April 23–29) coming to an end tomorrow, we’ve 10 tips, facts and pieces of advice to tell you about from paediatric allergy expert Dr George Du Toit. Dr George is a consultant paediatric Allergist from The Portland Hospital for Women and Children.
Here’s what Dr George has shared…
- It’s thought that around 40% to 50% of the population suffers from an allergy. The rate is said to be growing fastest among children.
- No one knows for certain why allergies are on the up. It’s thought that it may be because we lead cleaner, germ-free lives today. This could mean our immune systems are under-developed and more likely to over-react when exposed to allergens (think grass pollen, house dust mites and cat hairs). It’s most likely a combo of environmental and genetic factors.
- Food allergies affect between 6%-8% of children in the UK. The most common foods children are allergic to are cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, peanut, tree nut (ie cashew), sesame, soya, wheat and kiwi fruit.
- Some children outgrow their allergies. At least 85% of children outgrow egg and milk allergies by 5 to 7 years of age. However, allergies like peanut, tree nut and sesame tend to continue into adulthood
- Look out for the common symptoms of food-induced allergies. These include rashes (including hives, eczema), swelling, gut pain and vomiting, itchy red eyes and runny nose, wheezing and very occasionally anaphylaxis.
- Eczema in children often signals the start of the so-called “allergic march”. Eczema is sometimes linked with food allergies and allergies to house dust mites, pet fur and pollen.
- In up to 50% of kids, eczema can be associated with an underlying food allergy. Even though the food allergen may not actually be causing the eczema, eating the food may make the symptoms worse.
- Facial eczema may be irritated by foods such as tomatoes, citrus and berries. This doesn’t mean that you can’t feed your child these, but it’s much better to serve them cooked and to apply a moisturiser to dry skin or eczema patches first.
- Visit a doctor who specialises in allergy to have your child tested (done through either a skin test or blood test). This will ensure the condition is correctly identified and managed.
- The management of allergies is changing, and healthcare professionals are beginning to realise how important it is to also provide emotional support. So where can you get more info? Dr George lists these as places to start:
- British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology (BSACI)
- Allergy UK
- UK Anaphylaxis Campaign
- Asthma UK
- National Eczema Society
Does your child have an allergy? How do you manage it?